Skip to main content

Yurika Nakamura on the Frontlines in Boston (updated)

http://mytown.asahi.com/hyogo/news.php?k_id=29000141003310002

translated by Brett Larner

Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) is running Monday's Boston Marathon, only her third attempt at the distance. In her last marathon Nakamura was the only Japanese woman to finish the Beijing Olympics, where she was 13th. She vowed to work on her track speed before returning to the marathon. At last summer's World Championships she was one of the highlights of the Japanese team, with three PBs in three starts on the track over 5000 and 10000 m and unafraid to lead each of her races. With only a 2:25 PB from her 2008 debut Nakamura is unlikely to attract much pre-race attention, but the simple fact that she is there says she feels ready for something big in Boston. The local Hyogo edition of the asahi.com website recently published this interview with Nakamura.

Asahi.com: When you were a child you weren't a particularly fast runner.
Nakamura: I loved playing kick the can and hide and seek, but I was really slow. When I was in 6th grade I finished 6th in an intramural race so I decided to join the track team when I went to junior high. The older people on the team were all super nice and didn't have the usual kind of pecking order, so practice always had a great relaxed atmosphere that made me want to be there and be part of it. But I wasn't good enough to make Nationals.

If that was the case then why did you decide to join the track team when you went to Nishinomiya High School?
I wanted to go to a university where the emphasis was on studying, so when I got to high school I was really struggling to decide, "Should I keep running? Should I quit?" My advisor, Kenkichi Hagiwara kind of gave me a push when he told me, "Well, why don't you just try it and see?" There were a lot of high-level runners at the school so it was really hard, but I listened to Mr. Hagiwara's advice, "If you're going to doing something your goal should be to the best," and I learned the importance of working hard every day of your life.

You met Team Tenmaya's head coach Yutaka Taketomi when you were in your first year of high school, right?
Coach Taketomi had come to scout some of the older girls. I hadn't run any decent times at all yet, but he told me, "You run very well." When he told me that, in my heart I immediately settled on becoming a Tenmaya runner. I knew then I wanted to make the national team and run in the Olympics.

Four years after you became a corporate runner you ran the Nagoya International Women's Marathon in 2008. Even though it was your first marathon you beat Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi and won.
The whole time I was training I kept telling myself, "You can win." I remember that since Takahashi was there the sides of the roads were jam-packed with people cheering. When I made my move with 10 km to go it was with the state of mind, "If you're not completely focused on this then you're going to lose."

Winning Nagoya got you onto the Beijing Olympics team. You came 13th and were the only Japanese woman to reach the finish line.
You really have some heavy responsibility when you put on the national uniform, you know? I couldn't keep my concentration when I was in the race and just lost it internally. I thought, "Losing you mental endurance means you are weak," or something like that. The Olympics made me realize that I wasn't world-class and that I still had a long way to go before I got to that level.

What are your future goals?
I want to make the Olympics again. To improve my speed I stopped marathoning after Beijing and went back to improving my 10000 m times and whatnot. I'm going to run the Boston Marathon and just want to take on whoever's up front.

What does running mean to Yurika Nakamura?
It's what lets me grow. That's because you quickly learn what your weak points are. Especially in the marathon, there's no faking your way through it. When you honestly feel from your heart, "I've grown," that's when you want to run the most.

Can you give us a message for all the amateur running enthusiasts out there?
Have a goal, think about positive results when you're training, and enjoy it when you run. I also want to keep developing into someone whose running will make everyone happy.

Yurika Nakamura - born April 1, 1986
PBs
5000 m: 15:13.01 (12th, Berlin WC final, 2009)
10000 m: 31:31.95* (3rd, Hyogo Distance Carnival, 2008)
half marathon: 1:09:20 (1st, Sapporo, 2009)
marathon: 2:25:51 (1st, Nagoya 2008 - debut)
*Nakamura ran a PB of 31:14.39 to finish 7th in the Berlin WC 10000 m but the mark was later disallowed because she was part of the group who went off course due to officials' error in cone placement.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Berlin Marathon - Japanese Results

Fresh off a 1:00:17 half marathon national record last weekend and a 28:55 road 10 km the one before, Yuta Shitara (Honda) lived up to expectations at today's Berlin Marathon, trying to go with the lead group and running the first part of the race alone between the first and second groups.

Whatever his plan, Shitara was swallowed up by the second pack, a good turn of events as it was travelling ahead of Japanese national record pace on track for just sub-2:06. Shitara hung with that group through 25 km before his projected time started to creep away, drifting to high-2:06 pace by 30 km, high-2:07 by 35 km, and high-2:08 by 40 km. In the end he was well short of Toshinari Takaoka's 2:06:16 national record, but with a 2:09:03 for 6th Shitara took 24 seconds off his best with the fastest Japanese men's performance in Berlin since Takayuki Inubushi's then-NR 2:06:57 in 1999. And just 8 days after the greatest half marathon performance in Japanese history.

『ベルリンマラソン動画 設楽悠太…

New Half Marathon NR Holder Yuta Shitara's Twin Brother Keita Joins Hitachi Butsuryu Corporate Team

Having left the Konica Minolta men's corporate team at the end of March this year, Keita Shitara, 25, announced on Sept. 19 that he will join the Hitachi Butsuryu team. The official announcement is scheduled for Sept. 20.

As a member of Toyo University Shitara was part of two Hakone Ekiden-winning teams before joining Konica Minolta following his graduation in 2014. His first year at Konica Minolta Shitara ran New Year Ekiden national championships' toughest stage, but since his second year he has experienced a slump. Saying, "I need to change my environment in order to get my head straight and back on track," Shitara chose to leave the team at the end of March, returning to Toyo as his training base.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team came into being in April, 2012 as the successor to the Hitachi Cable Marathon Team. It is based in Matsudo, Chiba. Under the leadership of head coach Manabu Kitaguchi, 45, it has grown steadily, placing 10th at this year's New Year Ekiden.…

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…